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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    26 May 2012

Thai govt's compensation not accepted by some victims

25 May, 2012

The ceremony held yesterday to hand out compensation to victims of political unrest in Thailand did not go as smoothly as expected because some beneficiaries were concerned about their rights and the payments because the government has not provided clear information yet.

Phayao Akkahad, mother of Kamolkate, the volunteer nurse who was fatally shot at Wat Pathumwannaram on May 19, 2010, initially refused to accept the payment yesterday morning, saying the contract did not allow those affected to take the case to court after they have taken the money.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit managed to calm her down, saying that she was only signing a document recording her receipt of 7.75 million baht (US$244,400) in compensation and that she could go ahead with criminal proceedings and that he would also help her with it.

"I talked to her and she agreed to accept the payment and not take this government to court," Yongyuth said.

The ceremony, held yesterday at Government House, was presided over by Yongyuth on behalf of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who had to attend to urgent business in Chiang Mai.

The deputy PM handed cashier cheques and Government Savings Bank savings bonds worth a total of 577.66 million baht ($18.2 million) to the 524 people deemed eligible. The atmosphere was of sadness, with some people losing their temper.

Apart from Phayao, two other people refused to accept the payment.

One of them was Punsak Srithep, father of 17-year-old Samapun or Cher as he was fondly known, who was killed in crossfire on May 15.

"I am shocked because this government has always said that this payment is in compensation for human lives. But this compensation should not have any conditions and how can you possibly pay for my child's death," Punsak said, though he agreed to accept the cheque.

Though government is paying more than 7 million baht ($220,800) to the families of people killed in the crackdown, Punsak believes this will never make up for the loss of young lives. He added that though handing out money might calm people down, it would certainly not bring about reconciliation.

"This is just justice delayed, justice denied. The compensation came faster than I expected, but the justice process is a lot slower than it should be," Punsak said.

Another person who refused to sign the compensation protest was Nation Group photographer Chaiwat Pumpuang. His reason was that he was being given the wrong type of compensation.

"I still have a leg but I can't use it. My injury worsened but I'm not being paid for it. The government should take a closer look at all cases," he said.

Chaiwat said the government should also take into account the cost of treatment, adding that he had to provide more documents to prove that losing a leg is a real disability so he is paid the right amount in the second round.

"I believe this payment has only brought about 30 per cent reconciliation, the remainder really depends on politicians and the justice process," Chaiwat said.

Elizabeth Polengi, sister of Italian photographer Fabio Polenghi, who was killed during the government crackdown on May 19, 2010, also called on the government to find the truth and create a standard of political responsibility.

"For two years I have been fighting for my brother's case and my objective is to find the person responsible for this," she said.

Elizabeth quit her job in Italy and sold all her assets to fly out to Bangkok to seek justice for her brother's death. "I want the truth," she said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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